2013’s Social Media Trends

2013 is coming to an end, and Social Media stats from around the Internet are rolling in! Many social sites saw impressive number gains this year, and the statistics make for very valuable marketing tools when planning for 2014. I have gathered what I think are some of the most important facts and put them into an infographic for all of you to reference.

Continue reading

Advertisements

How to Run a Photo Contest Using Social Media

These days it can be tricky to come up with fresh, new content for your Social Media pages without sounding repetitive or copying other businesses. One of my favorite solutions to this problem is crafting a contest around your business – not only will your fans appreciate the change of pace, but if you throw in some kind of a reward they’ll jump at the chance to participate and create more buzz for your pages!

A simple yet effective contest to run is a photo contest. The idea may sound daunting, but as long as you plan ahead and make efficient use of your various social sharing venues, you won’t fail. To begin coordinating your photo contest, start with choosing a theme. If there’s an upcoming holiday, you can center your contest around that special day and give your audience something to work with. Should you decide to give away a product, gift certificate, or coupon, you can cater the prizes to your theme as well.

Next, you’ll want to decide upon the official rules that they’ll need to follow. Here’s a sample set:

  • Participants must be 18 years or older.
  • Entries must be submitted by March 1st.
  • Entries submitted on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram must be tagged with #EpicPhotoContest.
  • Entries limited to three per person.
  • Any entries displaying offensive or sexual material will not be counted.
  • It is the responsibility of the winning participant(s) to contact us via email by March 10th.

promote-your-blog-contest-though-images-and-bannersOnce you have your theme, prizes, and rules finalized you can start planning all of the media elements of your contest. Consider your Social Media presence and how your pages can be used to leverage this competition. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Tumblr are all excellent venues on which you can accept your entries, but you’ll need to monitor the pages closely to make sure contestants are not posting inappropriate content. This is especially important for Facebook as they have very strict policies about such violations. On Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr you can supply a certain hash-tag or keyword so that you can easily search for entries. In the sample set of rules above I used #EpicPhotoContest, but this tag can be anything related to your brand. Just make sure that it’s unique so you can easily pick out the entries when you search for the tag. You may also consider asking your contestants to geotag their photos, as this will help you with statistical research and allow more insight into your audience.

It’ll be important to have some graphical images to accompany your contest. Use Photoshop or a free program like Gimp to come up with something simple but eye-catching which includes all of the important information. You can post these graphics on your website and link them to your official rules, and you can also post them on all of your Social Media channels. Because consumers are very visually driven, this will be a great way to catch their eye and draw them in. You can also print off flyers for the contest and pass them out around your town, including information such as your Social Media pages and the proper hash-tag they’ll need to enter.

Once your graphics are made and your contest has begun, don’t be shy about promoting it often! Feature entries as they roll in to encourage other users, and send out a newsletter about the contest. If you partner with similar companies, ask them to make blog post or send out a Tweet directing their fans to your contest, and promise to do the same for them in the future. Once you reach the ending date, make sure you praise your winners on your various Social Media pages so that other users know the contest is over. Such praise will also encourage future entries! Be transparent through the process, providing updates and news on your Social Media pages, and it’ll surely make your brand seem more personable. Remember: the more personable and open you are with your audience, the more they will trust you and want to participate in your online activities!

Tumblr vs. Pinterest

Tumblr and Pinterest, while similar in purpose, are very different in execution. They tend to serve two unique audiences, and with Pinterest rapidly growing to compete with Tumblr’s avid fan-base, competition between the two is heated. If you’re creating a Social Media marketing plan for your business, group, or company, it’s important to understand the similarities and differences between these two sharing sites so that you can choose which will work best for you.

Let’s examine exactly what each of them do.

tumblrTumblr is considered a micro-blogging platform and is quite similar to Twitter in that content filters down through one main, simple feed in blocks of images and text. I like to consider Tumblr posts as miniature blog posts that rely heavily on images and video to catch the eye. You’re looking for re-blogs and likes on Tumblr to add posts to your personal collection on your profile, and as a way to find others with similar interests. On Tumblr you can easily look at who else as liked and re-blogged a certain post, then follow them if their personal page looks interesting to you. You can also find topics by doing keyword searches, so the tagging system is very important.

pinterestPinterest is coined as a visual pin-board for images that users want to keep in their personal collection. Instead of chunky mini-blogs, you re-pin what you see around the internet and on other pin-boards, adding them to your personal, categorized collections. Making pins easy to find in searches relies on supplying adequate information in the summary before pinning, and on using keywords that will come up in Pinterest searches. Images that you’ve pinned show up both on your profile in stacks, and in your main feed amidst a sea of pins from people that you follow.

What are the main similarities?

Both Tumblr and Pinterest serve as media-heavy feeds and collections of images that users keep on their own profiles by Liking and re-blogging or re-pinning. Each of these Social Sharing venues allow for commenting and participation, though Pinterest makes it visually simpler to add comments and Tumblr users tend to only promote the best comments on each post. In whole, both Tumblr and Pinterest serve as popular SEO tools for driving traffic to websites and promoting personal interests.

How about the differences?

First and foremost; user interface. Aesthetically speaking Tumblr offers one option for the main feed – a grey-blue backdrop under a white background for posts, with colorful buttons at the top representing the options users have. These options include text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio, and video posts. Users also have a mini-dashboard to the right where they can tumpistlook at their own Likes and posts, find other blogs, and check out daily featured posts. Personal pages, however, can be tailored to users’ preferences with a plethora unique layouts, both from Tumblr itself and from many free sites around the web.

Pinterest is very different aesthetically in that it offers a simple off-white background and some tones of light gray, which helps their red logo and red Follow buttons pop. Otherwise, the only way you can personalize your page is by adjusting the different pin-boards to have specific covers, and by shifting the boards around so that they appear in a certain order. Pinterest clearly wants users to focus more on the images displayed by it’s many users than on personal individuality.

User Interface Summary: Tumblr offers visual uniqueness and preference while Pinterest offers a blended hodge-podge of visuals without the possibility of personalization.

Differences in use come down to simple button clicks. Tumblr users have more options in what type of media they can post – text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio, and video – while Pinterest only allows photography and video pins, and not from every website out there on the net (Facebook, for
Screen shot 2012-12-11 at 1.48.52 PMexample). With Pinterest you must install a “Pin It”  button on your browser’s menu bar, and when you come across something you want to share you simply hit the button, choose the photo, and a small window opens up. From there you decide which pin-board you’d like the photo to fall into and add a summary of 500 characters or less, finally hitting the red “Pin It” button to post. You can also choose to share it to your Twitter and Facebook right from that window, if you have your profile integrated with those other Social Sharing venues.

Tumblr does everything from within the main feed on their site. You have all of your options above the feed, and clicking one of them takes you to another page very similar to what you’d see when making a blog post. You have a plethora of options for tailoring your post to your liking, as well as the ability to insert links and tag it like crazy.tumblr1 Unlike Pinterest you must do the work yourself and either upload your media or link to it directly. Tumblr gives users more room for longer posts, too, but lacks the ability to add other contributors to accounts – a unique feature Pinterest possesses.

Use Summary: Pinterest offers better off-site integration with simple clicks, and Tumblr requires users to treat their media like blog posts but offers more options for what can be posted.

While the general purpose of both are similar (sharing what you love), Tumblr and Pinterest seem to have different missions. Pinterest clearly states on their About page that they want to ‘connect people from all over the world’, while Tumblr states on their About page that they help you ‘effortlessly share anything’, and ‘customize everything’. Tumblr seems to want to promote engagement as re-blogging is a staple in their interface, and they encourage the idea that posts can grow and evolve as the general community adds to them. Pinterest wants to help users find each other with similar interests and promote nonstop eye-candy for them to add to their collections. When looking at the main feeds of both sites, one can see that Pinterest is more artistically driven in a broad array of visual topics, while Tumblr is best suited for defined passions like fandoms, special interests, memes, and social causes.

General Purpose Summary: Pinterest encourages contributions to their community and connects users with others through visual interests, while Tumblr encourages personal passions that grow their community which, in turn, spreads popular posts amongst their users.

Audience statistics play a huge role in the differences between Tumblr and Pinterest. Because Pinterest is such a fast-growing site, social-media-audienceswe know that it’s quite popular amongst Caucasian females in their mid-twenties to mid-fifties with middle-class incomes [source]. Tumblr is more evenly split between males and females, but on average it is most popular amongst young men and women of Hispanic amd Asian races [source]. From that data, we can gather that Pinterest appeals to  working class young mothers and housewives, while Tumblr caters most to young college-aged males and females of ethnic backgrounds.

With these differences we can see potential posting trends in both sites. Pinterest is most likely to be filled with DIY and home-related pins, while Tumblr operates best for special interest groups with passionate topics.

Audience Summary: Pinterest appeals to middle-aged, crafty women and Tumblr to college-aged, passionate men and women.

General Summary

If you’re looking to choose between Tumblr and Pinterest for your business, community, or company, then it’s important to factor in all of the above. You’ll want to consider the aesthetics, usability, purpose, and audience of each to decide whether Tumblr or Pinterest will best fit your website’s messages. If your audience is typically comprised of family-centered women, then Pinterest is for you. But if your audience leans towards young adults who are outspoken and would prefer customization, Tumblr is for you. My suggestion – try them both out and see which one generates more traffic to your website, while considering your own preferences for media sharing. After all, you want to have fun updating your pages!

Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report Is In!

Nielsen’s annual Social Media Report is in, and from it we can gather some very interesting facts about Social Marketing trends from his past year. Diving right into the statistics laid out in their pleasing infographics we can see that mobile apps are taking a step towards the front, with users increasing their app usages by 76% when compared to last year’s numbers. Computer-based usage is still heaviest, though – likely attributed to how very buggy those apps can be.

As for the top Social Networks, unsurprisingly Facebook took the lead by far in terms of unique visitors on personal computers. More surprising is that Blogger came in second, with Twitter and WordPress not far behind. Following them were Linkedin, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Myspace, and Wikia – in that order. Twitter, WordPress, Google+, Tumblr, and Wikia all saw positive growth in users, with Pinterest seeing a 1,047% increase [Source]. For this reason Nielsen chose to spotlight Pinterest in their review.

06

Pinterest is fast becoming a Social Media powerhouse, having seen sharp increases in usage in just this past year alone [Source]. While the Pinterest audience is heavily split with far more females than males using their service, the median age of use is early 20’s to mid 30’s and predominately white by race. Because of these statistics marketers have a very specific audience on Pinterest which they can tap into, and with a very high total for minutes spent on the website they’ve got an excellent attention span to grab hold of.

Nielsen made sure to point out that Twitter is taking a lead role in mixing Social Media with television. More and more users are watching TV while using their mobile devices to access their favorite programs, commenting and discussing these shows on Twitter with friends and family. The number of users Tweeting about television grew almost steadily month to month, from 26% in January 2012 to 33% in June 2012 [Source].

Advertising and Social Media customer service from online companies saw interesting numbers this year, too. According to Nielson 47% of Social Networking users tapped into the Social Care offered by websites, and one in every three users preferred to contact companies this way instead of by phone [Source]. Although 33% of 09Social Media users found Social Networking advertisements to be more annoying than others, over a quarter of users will still pay attention to them – especially on Facebook. Nielsen found that ‘Social Likes’ and shared ads greatly increase brands’ visibilities online.  What are consumers using brand and company pages for? 70% of consumers listen to the experiences of others on Social Sharing sites, 65% use the sites for learning more about brands, products, and services, and 53% compliment the brands. Half of users complain or leave comments of concern, while 47% discuss monetary incentives [Source].

Some more interesting facts came up in Nielsen’s report that are definitely worth taking note of. While personal computers lead for how users are connecting to Social Media sites, mobile phones, tablets, and other handheld devices follow suit. In terms of why people connect with others through these sites, the most popular reasons simply come down to knowing their fellow users in real life and wanting to keep in touch with them. Where are they connecting most? Humorously, young adults aged 18 to 24 are using Social Media in the bathroom, while adults aged 25 to 34 are mainly using it in the office [Source]. Finally, 76% of users had an overall positive experience using Social Networking sites this past year, which is what we Social Media gurus love to hear!

In summary, personal computers still reign and Facebook is the King of Social Networking all around, but smaller underdog sites and mobile apps are certainly beginning their climb to the top. Compared to the numbers Nielsen reported in 2011, these statistics are not straying from the overall trend that we’ve been seeing for Social Media. It will continue to grow year by year and become the ultimate resource for consumerism, advertising, and media networking.

All images and statistics taken from Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report

The Internet’s Election – How Our 2012 Candidates Use Social Media

There is no arguing that we live in a time where the Internet and Social Sharing are taking over how we communicate and how we advertise. With a rather large election date looming and two very outspoken candidates battling for votes, President Obama and Mitt Romney have both taken to Twitter and to Facebook in order to increase their reach. But are they effective?

It’s nearly impossible to log onto any popular Social Media venue today, and not see a friend sharing something about the upcoming election. The majority of Internet users are of Generations X and Y, ranging from age 18 to 42, with an even split between Male and Female. While it’s very true that the older Baby Boomers are starting to use the Internet, it’s quite clear that Social Sharing sites are held in the grasps of younger adults.

How loud of a Social Media voice do these candidates have?

Comparing the size of each candidate’s Social Media presence, we can gauge user following and overall reach to get a better sense of which candidate is best utilizing Social Sharing and how many users and fans they are actually reaching through their various pages.

Governor Romney rounds out his Internet presence using;

While President Obama’s list is longer with;

Arguably, Twitter and Facebook are the two most popular Social Sharing tools today and these two candidates are certainly using them rabidly. President Obama’s Twitter ‘team’, consisting of his personal account, Vice President Biden’s account, First Lady Michelle Obama’s account, the Forward Obama2012 account, and the Truth Team account are well-stocked with upwards of 23,700,000 followers combined. On top of that impressive stash of Twitter pages, his Social Media team has organized state-specific Obama accounts so that his supporters can follow news pertaining to his campaign strictly involved with their area. Mitt Romney’s overall Twitter campaign presence is not as easy to find from his website. Clicking the link to Twitter takes you just to his account, whereas President Obama’s link to Twitter lists several places to find his campaign’s various pages. Through the occasional ‘Follow Our Team’ Tweet, we can see the various accounts associated with Mitt Romney; his personal page, the Romney Response team, Paul Ryan’s personal account, a Team Romney account, and a handful of other advisors and campaign leaders for a total upwards of 1,880,000 Followers combined.

Looking at their Facebook pages, today President Obama has 31,250,792 Likes while Mitt Romney has 10,475,115 Likes. Though the President has had surplus opportunity to harvest such Social Media attention, Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool for these two candidates. Their posts to Facebook have the potential to reach millions of ‘Friends of Fans’ whenever someone hits the Share button, and the posts themselves act as forums for open discussion on hot topics. So, not only are supporters sharing the messages of the candidates, but they are sharing the positive and negative responses from each side, of varying age ranges. We can see these reactions in consistent amounts based on post topics; each side has their share of negative comments, which tend to spark heated debates. While for companies using Facebook such debates could promote a negative image, for candidates it is important to have an open venue that welcomes discussion.

Users of Tumblr may be split fairly evenly between male and female, but the majority of users are aged 18 to 49 [source] which makes Tumblr a prime source of young adults who openly share their passions and beliefs. Tumblr is growing in popularity outside of the election, but if we look at the candidates’ pages we can see some differences. While the Tumblr accounts are aesthetically similar with simple layouts and clear messages, President Obama’s Tumblr page has far more participation that Mitt Romney’s Tumblr page, which we can tell based on the number of re-blogged posts. President Obama’s Tumblr is more frequently updated by the hour, while Mitt Romney’s tends to skip a couple of days here and there. On top of that minor difference, Obama’s Tumblr posts made by his Social Media team will see anywhere from 300 notes to over 10,000 notes, whereas Mitt Romney’s Tumblr posts average anywhere from 30 notes to 500 notes. While ‘notes’ themselves are a total number of both Likes and Shares in the Tumblrsphere, they are indicative of a page’s overall popularity and of the value of the messages being delivered.

Google+ is a venue that, though it immediately created a buzz when first released, has lost some interest due to users seeing it as a lack-luster version of Facebook. Both Presidential candidates seem to understand the importance of reaching users via Google+ because, with a high rate of middle-aged males using G+, they have a unique internet audience to tap into. So what are the numbers? Currently Mitt Romney has +994,869 fans on his Google+ page, and President Obama has a whopping +2,249,932 fans, giving the President an edge on delivering Social Media to his young, male demographic. G+ can also provide more interconnected sharing as it deals with personal circles, making the user feel directly connected to each candidate through family and friends with similar interests. It seems that with Obama’s higher number of ‘circles’ on G+, his Social team better understands this idea of interconnectivity.

One surprising tool used by President Obama and not by Mitt Romney is PinterestPresident Obama’s Social Media team is making excellent use of Pinterest, with categories like ‘Just the Facts‘, ‘The First Family‘, and ‘Snacks of the campaign trail‘ full of photos that go out to over 35,000 followers but not updated very often. On top of that, Michelle Obama’s team has a Pinterest page, as do a couple of pro-Obama states. With a demographic of about 70% Female with 50% of users having children [source], Pinterest is an excellent way for the candidates appeal to young, working mothers. While Mitt Romney does not appear to have an official Pinterest page, he does have several pro-Romney Pinterest support pages with around 2,000 Followers. Because Pinterest’s network grew 4,000% in just the past six months [source], it is an invaluably popular image sharing tool that could be better used in this election.

YouTube is being used to it’s fullest potential, by both candidates. President Obama’s 253,407,036 video views on top of his 247,866 subscribers equate to impressive online marketing opportunities. Mitt Romney’s 27,528,384 video views and 25,786 subscribers don’t quite stack up but still leave an impact in terms of viral video sharing. While YouTube sees over 2 billion video views per day, and has 70% of traffic coming from outside of the United States [source], it may not be the best resource to gauge Social media impact on an election win, but it is still a decent indication of online popularity. Through the simplicity of sharing videos, candidates have an open window with which they can air their positive and negative advertisements to billions of Internet users every single day.

Does it really matter to the election, in the end?

The impact of Social Media on advertising has become massively apparent in recent years. It is estimated by Nielsen that, of the 245 million Internet users in the United States, Social Media venues are utilized by 80% of them [source]. Because the purpose of Social Sharing is not simply to put information out there but to take information in, this means that companies and important figures have an enormous audience to reach online via Social Media venues.

As the Baby Boomer generation begins to meld in with Generations X and Y, using the Internet to keep in touch with family and friends and share interests, Presidential candidates can shift some attention from traditional advertising mediums like television, radio, and print to reach a new, incredibly receptive audience. These Social Media users, young and old, are influenced by what they see being shared from friends and family and are thus vulnerable to persuasion. I believe that in this election, more so than any election we’ve seen yet, Social Sharing and the way candidates are using such tools, will have a vast impact on young voters.

Clearly, President Obama is winning this Internet Election when number of Followers are tallied across the board. This doesn’t mean he has the young internet-based vote in the bag, but it does mean that his ability to create Socially Viral posts across numerous venues is far more advanced than Mitt Romney’s. Recognizing that it can take time to build these pages up and that President Obama has already had many years to do so, it is important that any candidates who would like to run for President in the coming years begin harvesting their online presence today, so that they may reap the Social Sharing benefits when the time comes.